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A Retake On Acts 1:12-26

Acts 1:12-26

Whenever possible it behooves Lutherans to take the liturgico-sacramental route of biblical interpretation. I suggest it be done along these lines.

The Mt. of Olives is not just a geographical location, but is highly significant in the New Testament. Better to call it Olive Mountain. That helps us think about the place and how it got its name. For olives. Why is that important? Because oil looms large in Scripture from the Dove / Spirit returning to the ark with an olive branch, to the baptism of the Christ, the oiled-one. Oiled not with olive oil, for that is only symbolic (and sacramental in the theology of the majority of the Christian world) of the Spirit with whom Jesus is "oiled" / anointed and anoints us. That makes us alive! For the Spirit is the Lord and giver of life! And so oil means life and health, and Lutherans would do well to study how it is used by Rome and the East. We have something to learn there about incarnational religion.

Nor is "being of one mind" simply an association of like-minded individuals. It is unity in faith, expressed by unity in prayer -- in our terms in the Mass, culminating in the highest and holiest moment of blessed unity with God and one another: the Eucharist.

Any "concordia" that is left abstract, or only a matter of written documents to which we assent at confirmation and ordination means little because it is hidden from sight, and more notional than not. Worse yet a faith that is realized only cognitively, and in the emotions as with the Reformed (and Reformed minded Lutherans) leaves one wanting. And so the one-mindedness is always made manifest at the altar: where the church “glorifies God with one voice.” (Romans 15:6)

When Luke writes about “the prayers,” we should not imagine a Pentecostal-type prayer meeting, but an orderly worship service. Possibly, even probably, a Eucharist (celebrated by Peter) though there is no patent mention of that here. Why? Because the Eucharist is the one liturgy that the Lord gave. And later in chapter 2 it says they “continued” in the doctrine, the koinonia etc. (acts 2:42 and 46) “Continued” implies not something new, but a persisting in something previously done. This also reminds us that the pastor’s job description is single and simple: to lead God’s people in worship.

Also (vss. 14 and 15) we should note that in the New Testament “brother” is not a collegial term, and rarely an indicator of sibs, but a sacramental term for fellow baptized, who feed on Christ together at the altar. It indicates Eucharistic intimacy. Those who proceed from the same womb, and are born of the same mother, the church. We should not think in sterile categories with this vocable, but in terms of those who have passed through the same birth canal of baptism; and now imbibe the soma / body and hema / blood of Jesus. It is the fulfillment of Psalm 133.

It is further significant that Judas’ replacement should be elected in the church’s worship. What we have described here is the Christian church’s first episcopal (v. 20) liturgy; many followed over the centuries, and some fine examples are extant of very early episcopal liturgies. What a find, sitting here in front of our faces all this time, and we never realized it.

Much more could be said but let this suffice.


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